Manohar elected ICC chairman unopposed

New Delhi, May 12

India’s Shashank Manohar was elected International Cricket Council chairman on Thursday after championing reforms to ensure the governing body is not run simply for the benefit of its most powerful nations.

Days after quitting India’s board, Manohar was unanimously chosen as the first “independent” ICC chairman following reforms designed to ensure the incumbent no longer feels obliged to promote his own country’s interests. “It is an honour to be elected as the chairman of the International Cricket Council and for that I am thankful to all the ICC directors who have put their faith and trust in my abilities,” Manohar said in a statement after the election at a meeting in Dubai. “I look forward to working with all stakeholders to shape the future of cricket, which has a proud history and rich tradition.”

Manohar had been serving as head of the ICC in his role as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in line with the organisation’s previous system of rotating chairmanships. But under reforms that he himself helped draw up and implement, the ICC has amended its constitution to bring in direct elections for the position which will now be officially an independent post. The 58-year-old Manohar had resigned as BCCI president on Tuesday in a move that freed him up to run for the ICC chairmanship, and his election had been widely predicted.

In an interview published after his resignation from the BCCI, Manohar said it was important to avoid “a conflict of interest”. “As BCCI’s nominee, am I not duty-bound to fight for our cause? On the other hand, as ICC chairman, I am expected to protect its interests,” he told The Times of India. “That’s why I have proposed that the post of the ICC chairman should be made independent and it has been accepted unanimously,” he added in an interview published Wednesday.

Manohar has been critical of recent ICC rule changes designed to give greater power to India, England and Australia, saying the game’s three most powerful countries appeared to be “bullying” the organisation. The veteran Indian sports journalist Ayaz Memon said that Manohar should now be freer to push for reforms without having to look over his shoulder. “It’s a positive move in a way that now the chairman will not be linked to a particular board, therefore that nexus is not seen as something which is unhealthy,” Memon said.

Since India’s emergence as the most powerful country in world cricket, the ICC has often been accused of failing to exert its independence on key issues of governance. Many of the game’s smaller Test-playing nations have been accused of bending to India’s demands in the ICC, desperate to attract tours by India which can ensure their financial security by selling TV rights.

In its statement, the ICC said Manohar had been the sole nominee for the position and was “unanimously elected” for a two-year term. Under the new reforms, the largely ceremonial position of ICC president has now been scrapped.